Budding 007s get spy lessons at Edinburgh University

Bill Buchanan launches the Cyber Academy
Bill Buchanan launches the Cyber Academy
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IT is renowned as the birthplace of the world’s most famous secret agent.

Sean Connery played the original incarnation of Ian Fleming’s fictional spy James Bond – who was educated at Fettes in the Capital.

Now budding spies aspiring to become real-life 007s will be given lessons in espionage as experts lift the iron curtain on the most secretive profession of them all.

Spy Week at Edinburgh University has a licence to thrill as it delves into the clandestine world of double lives and deceit.

The events from May 18-23 are set to include screenings of classic films and talks by 
celebrated spy-fiction writers.

Award-winning spy writer Charles Cumming stressed that there was sometimes a big divide between real life and fictional secret agents.

But the award-winning author, who will speak at the event, added that all spies possess a “certain ruthlessness” which was “essential and necessary”.

He said: “I don’t think they are breaking the law but they have to have a certain ability to make moral compromises.

“They have to have a good memory but perhaps more than anything to win trust and make relationships, to understand people.”

The event will also feature discussions on the work of novelist and former MI6 agent Graham Greene.

Adaptations of his classic espionage novels will be screened at the Filmhouse, with introductions from academics.

Professor Penny Fielding, from the university’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, said: “The world of espionage has not only provided authors with some of their most memorable plots but spy fiction also confronts some of the ethical, cultural and historical events which have shaped the modern world. Spy Week is back to celebrate and explore that influence.”

One of Scotland’s leading novelists, James Robertson, will give a talk on Truth and Lies in Real and Imagined Scotland.

Also taking part is Dr Kieron O’Hara, an expert in privacy, trust, transparency and security in web technologies, and Dr Laura Bradley who will talk about theatre in East Germany under the Stasi secret police.

Those with a passion for writing can sign up for a Publish Your Own Spy Fiction workshop by bestselling 
writer Tim Stevens, the author of 14 espionage thrillers including Ratcatcher, Severance Kill and Omega 
Dog.

Outside the realms of fantasy, the Capital has long-established connections with espionage as a recruiting ground for secret agents, including Dame Stella Rimmington who became the first female director-general of MI5.

Spies from all over the world also came here to uncover national secrets, among them Dr Robin Pearson who worked as an agent for the Stasi.